Sunday, 22 May 2011

Wet and windy.

I was working for Charity Trek yesterday on a very wet and wild day on the Ben. It was a wet start and it only got wetter as the day went on. Most of the snow from the day before had gone but there was still a lot of snow lying on the summit.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Cobbler, an old stomping ground.

Day 2 with Alan working for Mountain plan and with the forecast looking wetter than yesterday we decided to go for a day of mountaineering rather than standing at the bottom of a wet crag. We headed to the Cobbler by Arrochar to do the traverse of the South and Central peaks. This is a mountain I know well as I spent a year in this area a few years back when I got my first job in the outdoors at Ardroy OEC (which needs saving) and it was nice to be back with lots of familiar views. 

The Cobblers three peaks with a snow covered Ben Ime in the distance.

We had spent the night camping at Ardgarten campsite and when we woke in the morning we were surprised to see snow down to about 700m. Thankfully the snow line was retreating as we ate our breakfast so we were happy that most of it would have gone by the time we got there. We headed up the path to the dam crossed the river and made our way up the broad ridge line to the base of the south peak.

The final pitch up to the central summit. The south peak and Loch Long in the background.

The route starts up some pretty wet and greasy grass covered ledges but soon improves and gives some nice pitches of grade 3 scrambling linked by sections of grass and finishes on top of the south summit which has some fantastic views towards the Central and North peaks. A 20m abseil from this top takes you onto a lower ledge which then joins the main path up to the start of the scrambling on the centre peak. There is an obvious abseil point off the very top but there is a possibility your rope might get stuck. If you make a couple of difficult moves down to a lower ledge there are many more better options or you could down climb the very green and wet ordinary route.

Threading the eye on the central summit with an approaching snow shower in the distance.

The next section can be avoided and is escapable but why would you as the exposure increases and you get to stand on the true summit. We finished of this summit by threading the summit stone and back on to the main path again. The weather had been mixed today with spells of sunshine and spells of driving hail and snow. Despite all this it is a fantastic route with some fantastic positions and I'm sure a continuation down from the North summit would be possible making it an even better day out all it needs is a bit more traffic.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Climbing in Knapdale.

Day 1 of two today working with Alan for Mountain Plan. Alan had been on Islay for a few days and wanted to get some climbing in and look at improving his overall skills base. The weather wasn't looking favourable and the driest area was the South-west away from the mountains so we headed to Knapdale crag near Lochgilphead. I had heard a lot of good things about this crag and some of the routes looked fantastic on beautiful clean, rough rock. Unfortunately the routes in the lower grades weren't as clean.

Alan on our first route of the day.

So with the rock still feeling a little greasy from the last shower we went up a slabby route on the left side of the crag and looked at building belays and rope work. At the top the cloud had cleared and the rock had dried so we headed to the opposite side of the crag so Alan could have a go at leading some easier routes and some coaching. It took us nearly half an hour to walk from one side of the crag to the other only to find some well protected but not the cleanest routes.

Alan led a couple of routes and did very well with taking on board what we had covered earlier. We had now ran out of routes at the right grade that looked climbable. So instead of descending back to the bottom of the crag and taking forever to cross the wet, greasy boulder field I put a top rope on some of the routes so Alan could get a bit more millage.

Alan climbing Pocketed wall.

This is a good little crag to spend a day at if your out with a mate with a hand full of good routes up to E2. The only real issue is access to the routes which is difficult to say the least. There had been some showers passing during the day but not enough to stop us climbing.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

What happened to the summer?

A quite couple of weeks since my last post. The long spell of sunny dry weather broke over a week ago and since then we've had some heavy rain and even 7/8" of snow on the highest tops. There has been the odd opportunity to go bouldering in the Glen between some of the showers but no other climbing has really been happening. The last two Saturdays I have been up the Ben by the tourist track either as part of a three peaks or just for the day. Last week I was working for Mountain Sense and Yesterday I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Bank Holiday weekend.

On Saturday I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides Again. This time I was working with Max Hunter and a group that were on the first part of their 3 Peaks Bank Holiday Bonanza. The weather was perfect for them and the early start meant we managed to get to the summit before the midday heat. There was a strong breeze how ever and you soon got cold once you stopped. There where hundreds of people on the Ben today with a very steady stream of people heading up and down all day.

Yesterday Alex and I headed up to Carn Dearg Buttress on Ben Nevis to do The Bullroar(HVS5a). This route makes a fantastically wild traverse across the slabs of the Buttress and at times can feel very lonely for the leader as the world drops away from your feet.

Alex starting off out on the traverse of pitch 3.

A couple of pitches got us established on the slabs and Alex made the first but short traverse out into the middle of the slabs. I then set off on pitch 4 which had some really nice moves and at time was quite bold with just a rusty peg as protection for quite a few metres. Alex set off along the next set of slabs and took us up to easier ground. One more pitch and we were at the abseil above titan wall. The upper part of this route is far more complex than the guide book might suggest with a lot of options and none of them looking that well travelled and a lot of loose rock. So we made the two abseils back to the ground on 50m ropes.

Me continuing the traverse across the slabs on pitch 4.